Domestication of Non Timber Forest Products - Page 2

By the end of 2007, over 640 farmers belonging to 21 Common Initiative Groups had been trained on Eru domestication techniques, and 21 Eru seedling multiplication farms established. During this period CENDEP experimented with drying and marketing of the product. Processed Eru was introduced in local and international super markets, market analysis of Eru conducted and results presented to some stakeholders in the Eru chain. In mid 2008 a baseline survey was carried out to further guide the development of the Eru chain (see report). However in 2007 the number of farmers who were cultivating Eru was low compared to those who had been trained. Production from domesticated fields (including sustainable management and harvesting of wild stocks found in cultivated fields) was limited due partly to the slow growth rate of the vegetable and the slow adoption rate by trained farmers; so demand still exceeded supply and local consumers had to depend on Eru from outside their community. Notwithstanding, over 30 early adopters of the technology were able to make substantial revenues from Eru domestication, realizing as much as $120/annum as extra revenue from the sales of Eru. These farmers harvest Eru after every three to four months with a yield of up to 1 kg per plant/per harvest i.e. 3 kg of Eru per year, priced at $0.6/kg to $1.9/kg depending on season and availability. For these farmers, Eru became a substantial element of their farms, especially in forest farm gardens.

Typical Eru Farm

As a result, tree gardening developed as a farming practice. Earlier in 2006 CENDEP chose the practice of analogue forestry as a guiding principle of biodiversity restoration and income generation. The cultivation of Eru fitted well into this system. So, Eru domestication if widely adopted could be not just a breakthrough in poverty alleviation in the region but also a tool to restore biodiversity using the analogue forestry approach. This inspired us to continue to support farmers interested in Eru domestication.

Therefore, in 2008 CENDEP embarked on spreading cultivation techniques to new farmers and on assisting old farmers to improve and/or expand existing farms in order to raise production beyond traditional levels to meet local, national and international market demands in the long term. In 2008 the following progress was made:

  • Training of 5 new groups comprising 230 farmers on Eru domestication and the establishment of a further 5 Eru seed multiplication farms;
  • A baseline survey was conducted and identified further constraints to the adoption of Eru domestication by farmers;
  • Enhancement of the institutional and organizational capacities of farmers’ organizations involved in Eru domestication. Seven (7) farmer groups were restructured and 4 were legalized. Registration (legalization of the four groups) was financed by the group members themselves. The project only facilitated the restructuring exercise and supported in typing of the minutes;
  • Support was given in basic infrastructure and inputs required for the development of Eru domestication to the newly trained groups;
  • A simple marketing plan was developed with an earlier trained group interested in embarking on the production and marketing of Eru seedlings. This resulted in the sales of an initial stock of seedlings and the reinforcement of the seed production facility;
  • 30 new farmers with stocks of Eru on their farms were identified and support provided in the management of the stocks. Results were promising especially with respect to the use of wildings in farm expansion;
  • In order to provide alternative income to the farmers while they wait for the Eru to mature, pepper cultivation was introduced in the Korup National Park area and in the Mount Cameroon area pineapples were introduced. 160 farmers were involved in the pepper cultivation;
  • 2046 Eru seedlings were raised and 8 additional individual and 3 group farms established;
  • A business plan was submitted for the BID Nature Challenge 2008 competition and ranked amongst the top in Cameroon even though it did not reach the final stage of the competition;
  • A business manager was recruited to manage the commercial activities of the organization and to facilitate the establishment of the commercial entity separate from the NGO.

A detailed analysis of this component of our work can be found on our 2008 annual report.

The other component of our activities involved the elaboration of an Exit Strategy detailing how CENDEP plans to make its work on Eru chain development sustainable and when it aims to reach this goal.

In 2008, CENDEP dropped the production and marketing of Eru seedlings as well as the processing and marketing of Eru leaves as these were purely commercial activities and concentrated on charitable activities such as capacity building of local farmers on Eru domestication, enhancement of the institutional and organizational capacities of farmers’ organizations involved in Eru domestication and farmer organization.

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Analogue Forestry
Sustainable Agriculture
Economic Development

Domestication and on-farm cultivation is appropriate when wild resources are being over exploited. This is the case with Gnetum spp (Eru). CENDEP has adopted the principle of conservation through cultivation to address the problem of unsustainable exploitation of this resource.

Putting in place systems to define who has access to wild NTFP resources in a given area and to monitor (measure and control) harvest levels is appropriate when wild resource use is still within sustainable levels.